Injuries pave the way for Horlock's return

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The Independent Football

Kevin Horlock will return for injury-ravaged Northern Ireland against Denmark today. Horlock was omitted from manager Sammy McIlroy's original squad for the World Cup qualifier and was only drafted in on Monday as a late replacement. He was delighted to be back in the Irish fold after missing the last five internationals with an ankle ligaments injury.

The Manchester City midfielder did not expect to start, but he will cap his comeback by playing against the Danes in the Parken stadium.

''It's only recently that I got back into the City team so it's nice to be back involved with Northern Ireland,'' he said. ''I had been playing before the injury and my last game was against Iceland. It's great to be back training with the lads because I've not seen them for a long time."

Horlock gets his chance because the Irish, who cannot qualify for the 2002 Finals, have lost eight players through injury, including midfielders Steve Lomas, Neil Lennon, Jeff Whitley and Jon McCarthy.

The Danes, who are unbeaten and top Group Three, have no real injury problems and the Panathinaikos defender, Rene Henriksen, should overcome a minor groin strain. They will make one enforced change from the side which lost 1-0 to France recently with Borussia Moen-chengladbach's Peter Nielsen replacing the injured Thomas Gravesen of Everton.

The Danish manager, former Ajax coach Morten Olsen, reportedly wants his current salary doubled after losing only one of 11 games in charge.

Denmark (probable, 4-3-3): Sorensen; Heintze, Laursen, Henriksen, Helveg; Tofting, Nielsen, Tomasson; Rommedahl, Sand, Gronkjaer.

Northern Ireland (4-5-1): Taylor; Kennedy, Griffin, Murdock, A Hughes; Horlock, Magilton, Mulryne, M Hughes, Gillespie; Healy.